The Pittsburgh Steelers, in title, have one quarterbacks coach, that being offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, who wields the dual distinction. In effect, however, they have a different quarterbacks coach—or at least two. Offensive assistant Matt Symmes was brought in last season to work with the quarterbacks, but he has taken on a bigger role this season, and at a critical an unpredictable time.
It’s not uncommon for offensive coordinators to wear multiple hats, but Fichtner’s plate has been unusually full this season, and Symmes, according to Jacob Klinger, has been asked to pick up a lot of the slack. He even writes that Fichtner referred to him as the quarterbacks coach.
“He has been great”, Fichtner told reporters of the young offensive assistant last week. “Matt was brought here to be a quality control for us offensively a year ago. He has worked with quarterbacks in the past, that is the thing that he has done. So, what we did was, we decided every week, even during OTAs, give him a little bit more”.
He has been given more and more since then, to the point where, as Klinger writes, he is the one who goes through tape with the quarterbacks, who gives them the information about the defensive tendencies of their upcoming opponent, and things of that nature, even when Fichtner is present.
He writes that there is only one meeting the quarterbacks attend on a weekly basis in which Symmes is not a part, and that is the weekly one-on-one meeting with head coach Mike Tomlin on Wednesday mornings at 7, where he gives his own breakdown of the upcoming week’s challenges.
“He has done a fantastic job working with the young guys”, Fichtner added. “And the best part about it was these were some of the guys he worked with when I was working with others, so the relationship he has with these guys is awesome and I am thankful he was here”.
Considering the fact that the Steelers have had three different quarterbacks start games this season, including two who had never thrown a pass before, one of whom is a rookie, Symmes has had an unenviable task to go far above and beyond the call of his typical duties.
It would hardly be surprising if he is promoted formally to quarterbacks coach as recently as 2020. It’s something that I have talked about as a possibility since going back to the offseason, but it appears as though he really has had a big role.
Most importantly, all of the quarterbacks seem to like him and believe he’s doing a good job. There’s no more significant endorsement than that of your students.